“We need to step up the pace in Europe”

Mr. Klein, everyone is talking about climate protection and sustainability. Is it still up to date to cart thousands of people to the World Economic Forum in the Alps for a week?

Sven Astheimer

Responsible editor for corporate reporting.

Bernd Freytag

Business correspondent Rhein-Neckar-Saar based in Mainz.

I am convinced that with these enormous challenges, you can only make progress with direct, personal exchange. Even if the pandemic has shown that we can do a lot virtually.

And does that mean that a lot of participants have to be flown in by plane and helicopter?

So I’m going by train.

In Davos there isn’t even a joint final declaration like at many international conferences – whatever the value of that may be. So why all this?

Politicians, scientists, managers and representatives from civil society come together there. And we don’t talk about the beautiful mountains, but discuss the content. It gets down to business, and I always take something with me.

What specifically?

Take the panel on the measurability of the ESG sustainability criteria. There are more than 100 top companies from all over the world and it’s about how we create standards on this important issue. Otherwise it’s all worthless. And some is in our products from SAP already flowed in. For me, that’s what Davos is all about: taking ideas with you and implementing them at home. If you expect that all the world’s problems will be solved there in a week, then of course it will fail.

Isn’t it simply practical for managers to be able to meet as many customers and partners in one week as they normally would in six months?

So if I were to visit all of them individually around the world, it would be from the CO2-Balance sheet certainly less sustainable. But generally I do my actual customer appointments outside of the forum. When I look at my schedule for this week, it’s very much about supply chain, geopolitical tension, inflation and recession sharing. And for us as a technology company, digitization is of course always at the top of the agenda.

Where are we in Germany and Europe in digitization?

Our biggest single market is them USA, and that’s why I sit at the business round table with leading politicians. All I can say is that we Europeans really have to be careful when I look at the 400 billion dollar “Inflation Reduction Act” subsidy program. In America, technology plays a major role.

Not in this country?

This is currently very much about the high energy prices or the mobility transition. But what unites everyone is digitization. That’s why we have to speed things up a lot in this area.

The federal government has just announced the restart of digitization. Isn’t that enough for you?

Before the election, I had campaigned for a digital ministry. Federalism too often stands in our way here. If in the US Apple, Google and Amazon Facilitate the immigration of skilled workers or demand digitization, then something happens. In the EU we have 27 individual countries, each of which wants to build its own cloud, each interprets data protection differently or has its own digital education program. Why don’t we create a digital platform on which we can bring together and qualify young Europeans who are looking for work and who have a huge need for IT staff?

tell us why

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